We know that Information Overload costs knowledge workers around one day a week, but few people understand where this figure is coming from, how it was measured, and what the underlying time-waste mechanisms are.
Jose Huitron had just hit the digital wall. Toggling between Facebook, Google, Twitter and a handful of other online communities, he found it hard to keep up with a constant barrage of tweets, texts and instant messages.
A 1971 essay in The Futurist magazine opened with some alarming numbers. The average city, it said, now had six television channels. But, the author warned, there was already one city planning 42 channels and in the future, there could even be places that support 80, 100 or 200 channels. Where will it end, the essay asked.
Information overload is affecting more and more of us, as we register for yet more websites which promise to change our working life/give us more time with our families/do our jobs for us. No one tool can ever live up to such grandiose promises, no matter which tech luminary is endorsing the next big thing, but you can definitely save yourself some running around circles with a bit of savvy attention to detail and some initial time investment.
As companies desperately try to find balance between the social media craze and what works for business, vendors continue to hand out solutions like they’re candy—especially those of the microblogging variety. The sheer number of options we have these days suggests that internal chatter is here to stay, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re handling it well.
AUSTRALIA is one of the top 20 most well-connected internet using nations in the world, and ranks in the top 10 for use of social-networking websites. Of every 10 Australians, three have a Facebook profile, more than two use Twitter and one logs on to MySpace.
Such is life in the post-Web 2.0 world. The latest iteration of the Internet — deemed the “real-time Web” by some analysts, is exemplified by the obsessive use of PCs or cellphones for quick interactions and dips into the online information stream. This hyper-connectedness is fueled by the rise in social media and distinguished by quick, short communication and, increasingly, an absence of privacy.
A question asked at the 2009 ACEM Winter Symposium following our presentation on ‘The Web 2.0 Rollercoaster’ was: How can emergency physicians deal with information overload?
Fear of information overload is a barrier preventing doctors from using web resources. But, given that humanity has been experiencing information overload since the invention of the Gutenberg press, ignoring web resources to avoid confronting this daunting problem is a maladaptive, self-defeating strategy. Here are some ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ pointers to help ‘Web 2.0 laggards’ pull their heads out of the ground and off-load the stress of information overload.